Lorry 'rolled over pensioner outside report'

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An elderly woman was hit by a lorry and crushed to death under its wheels as she left an airport following a family holiday, a court heard today.

Mary Whiting, 78, was following her great-granddaughter across a pedestrian crossing at Luton Airport when the 26-tonne vehicle hit her and rolled over her chest, prosecutors said.

Onlookers screamed and shouted at the driver to stop, a jury at Luton Crown Court was told.

Rossano Casagrande is charged with causing death by careless driving, which he denies.

The court heard Ms Whiting was making her way from the terminal building to a parking area from which her family was collecting her.

Casagrande, 50, of Fulbridge Road, Peterborough, who made deliveries to the airport, was waiting in his Scania lorry at the crossing.

Prosecutor Beverly Cripps said: "The defendant failed to see Mary Whiting crossing from the near side of the vehicle. She went under the vehicle, the front wheels rolled over her chest and she was crushed.

"The Crown says the incident was caused by the defendant driving without due care and attention."

Ms Whiting, from Norfolk, was pronounced dead at the scene, at about 1.45pm on May 16 last year.

The court heard how she walked very slowly and required the aid of a stick.

Giving evidence, her great-granddaughter Samantha Green said the lorry had been very close to her as she crossed the crossing ahead of her great-grandmother.

Breaking down in tears, she said: "I thought to myself, 'this lorry's very close'. The wheels were over the white marks on the crossing.

"As I got to the other side of the crossing, I turned around to see if she was coming and everyone made this noise like they were in shock.

"She had gone under the wheel and I thought, 'I hope it's not someone I know'. I could see her white hair."

Witness Hannah Meeks, who had just returned from a holiday with her boyfriend and was on the crossing at the same time as Ms Whiting, described how the pensioner tapped the lorry as it advanced towards her.

She said: "She was very close to the lorry. She had her hand up against the lorry in kind of like a tapping motion.

"When I got to the other side of the crossing, I turned around and I heard the lorry revving as if it was going to pull away and everyone started screaming. I saw the lorry move forward quite slowly.

"Everyone was screaming and shouting 'stop'.

"It looked like the lady started to tap a lot harder on the lorry as if she knew it was going to pull forward. It looked like she was tapping to tell him to stop but I don't think he could hear."

She too broke down in tears as she described seeing the woman disappear under the front of the lorry.

Casagrande told police afterwards he had been aware of the potential dangers of the crossing point and had been driving that particular route for three weeks, the court heard.

He said he had waited for about two minutes and 20 seconds and had positioned his lorry up to three feet back from the crossing to improve his view.

He had been driving the type of lorry in question for the three-year period he had been in the job.